Family Readiness Groups. FRGs. You’ve heard the horror stories.
Heck, you may have been in a bad FRG before. You know, the one that has meetings every blue moon and is super awkward every time you go to events.
Or maybe somehow the whole unit got emailed by a direct sales person (we know people have got to make a living, but that’s not what the roster is for, and yes this has happened to a real FRG).
Or maybe you’ve been lucky and only been in amazing FRGs. The ones where you look forward to going to their events because they have THE best events.
Either way, you are bound to be in a good, bad and/or non-existent FRG at some point. And when you turn to your spouse and say
“I’m avoiding the FRG like the plague,”
well you might want to rethink that. I said it the other day, not because our FRG sucks, but because I’m busy and don’t want to get sucked in to volunteering (I have a problem saying no).
But here’s the thing – if our FRG leader puts up her military spouse bat signal, I’ll stand up for her and help if I can.
Because the thing is that FRGs are only as good as you make them, and if you want them to be better, you have to do something more than comment on a Facebook post.
What can you do if you see your FRG floundering? Or if you just don’t love your FRG? Here are 5 things you can do to help your FRG.
Volunteer. Hate that events are always during the day? Wish that there were weekend events? Wish you got a phone call about what’s going on? Ask to help out. Yes, that FRG that you hate – ask to be involved. Because your FRG leader can’t read minds and they want you to enjoy FRG events (really), so if you want to see something, speak up!
You can help plan or work an event. You might make some new friends and at the very least see something that you want to see come to fruition. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an official full-time FRG volunteer. Work something out with your FRG leader to see if you can plan an event. They will totally understand and appreciate your contribution.
Remember that the people running it are volunteers. FRG leaders are also working, being a parent, dealing with their most recent PCS, and worrying about their service member who is deployed – they are just like you. They also volunteered to be the bridge between families and the commander on top of all of that.
Hint: FRG meetings might not be perfect at times because FRG volunteers are human and therefore not perfect.
Maybe the day of the FRG meeting was a really terrible day at the office for your FRG leader. Does that give them the right to be rude? No. But know they have a million things going on and talk to them later about that non-pressing manner. Or shoot them an email asking if you can help if they seem overwhelmed.
Manage expectations. You heard that the holiday party was going to be the party of the year, but it turns out to be sandwich trays in the community center again. Remember that there are no credit cards for units, so maybe that pie in the face fundraiser didn’t raise the thousands needed for Surf and Turf.
And that’s OK.
The point is that you get to have a night out, meet your spouses’s co-workers and let the kids play games with other military brats. Go into the party with a smile and you’ll be surprised how much fun it is.
Help welcome people. Remember being the new person? You walk into a room and everyone seems to know everyone? That’s a terrible feeling. When you see that new military spouse walk in – say hi. Ask where they came from. You may not become best friends but I promise you’ll have made that spouse’s day.
I remember that our first unit’s FRG leader called me to welcome me and I felt so special. When we had our first event, I felt like I was already a part of the community. So as much as it may pain you to be the extrovert – create that friendly atmosphere that you want to be a part of and who knows the feeling may be contagious.
Don’t start drama. Maybe you don’t get along with the FRG leader or your Point of Contact/Key Caller. That’s fine. But just because your personalities don’t click, doesn’t mean they are doing a bad job.
Don’t talk about them behind their back.
Don’t call them the d-word.
Don’t post passive-aggressive Facebook comments.
Talk to your FRG leader about any problems you see. You can always ask for a new Point of Contact or ask to be on the do not call list.
At the end of the day, the FRG is a way for the unit to relay information to the families. Maybe that’s all they do. Maybe they’ve created an amazing family. Either way, you’re likely to experience it all during your military life. And if something isn’t right, you definitely have the power to help fix it, or at the very least, make it suck less.